Saturday 16 December 2017

Alzheimer Society can't provide full credit card records

One-third of receipts for €25,000 of credit card spending was not accounted for at the charity. Stock photo
One-third of receipts for €25,000 of credit card spending was not accounted for at the charity. Stock photo
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The Alzheimer Society left itself open to fraud while the charity also wrongly spent public funds on alcohol and flowers, a HSE audit has found.

The failure to always have two people opening post, which can contain cash and cheques, increased the risk of fraud.

One-third of receipts for €25,000 of credit card spending was not accounted for at the charity, which receives around €33m in HSE funding.

The audit also looked at its credit card statements over three years and found €377 was spent on alcohol, €72 on flowers for the Department of Health, and €3,062 on restaurants. Some €30,080 also went to a gift voucher shop which was shared among staff to celebrate an anniversary.

The auditors warned that no gifts should be purchased from public funds. It had 63 bank accounts and 76 receipt books.

A separate audit of the Catholic Institute for Deaf People found credit cards used by two senior executives purchased a €155 bottle of whiskey and €1,080 on gift vouchers for one of Dublin's top restaurants, Chapter One.

The charity, which provides services for the deaf community, including St Joseph's Residence for Deaf Boys in Dublin, has Ger Deering, the Financial Services Ombudsman, and the Pensions Ombudsman among its directors.

The audit, conducted in December, found a former financial officer for the charity put more than €83,000 in untaxed bonus payments into an account. He regarded this as his own "private pension account".

The former chief executive's salary was €123,000, although it should only be €110,183. Some €400,000 was spent on consultants in one year.

It got nearly €18m in funding from the HSE from 2012 to 2015.

In response yesterday the charity's chairperson, Geraldine Tallon, a former high ranking civil servant, said the findings were fully accepted and everyone was "bitterly disappointed".

Pay levels at the top have been cut and credit card spending on gifts stopped.

A third audit of the Irish Wheelchair Association showed private health insurance was paid for seven employees, including their spouses and children.

The charity also delayed pay cuts under the Haddington Road Agreement.

A fourth audit looked at Wicklow Community Services, which provides home care.

It found that payment totalling €99,535 was made to a company in 2012.

But no records were available to confirm the purpose.

An invoice of €22,353 was found for the same company with no records.

A payment of €3,066 was made to a landlord with no explanation.

Yet the rent at the time was €850 a month, said the auditors.

Irish Independent

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